An Inspector Calls (1954 film)
|An Inspector Calls|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Guy Hamilton|
|Produced by||A. D. Peters|
|Written by||Desmond Davis (screenplay)
J.B. Priestley (play)
|Music by||Francis Chagrin|
(as Ted Scaife)
|Edited by||Alan Osbiston|
|Distributed by||British Lion Film Corporation
Associated Artists Productions
|16 March 1954 (London)
25 November 1954 (USA)
Set in 1912, a dinner party held by the upper class Birling family is interrupted by a man calling himself Inspector Poole, investigating the suicide of a lower class girl Eva Smith whose death is linked to each family member.
- Alastair Sim as Inspector Poole
- Jane Wenham as Eva Smith
- Eileen Moore as Sheila Birling
- Bryan Forbes as Eric Birling
- Brian Worth as Gerald Croft
- Olga Lindo as Sybil Birling
- Arthur Young as Arthur Birling
- Norman Bird as Foreman Jones-Collins
- Charles Saynor as Police Sergeant Arnold Ransom
- John Welsh as Mr. Timmon: Hat Sales Manager
- Barbara Everest as Mrs. Lefson: Charity Committee Woman
- George Woodbridge as Stanley: Fish & Chips Shop Owner
- George Cole as conductor on tram
In the original play, the Inspector's name was Inspector Goole. "An interesting fact for me is that in J.B. Priestley's play the surname of the eponymous Inspector is "Goole" whereas in the film his surname is "Poole". This has been the source of a few heated debates on the net and, initially, I was slightly disappointed in this apparent misnomer myself. However, it seems to me, that on the written page, "Goole" can be used as the name of the protagonist without the reader making the immediate verbal connection to "Ghoul". However, in the spoken word, "Goole" and "Ghoul" are the same and therefore the final denouement of the film may be anticipated by the audience and much of the suspense lost." Steve Hopley
Although the play never shows Eva Smith, the film opens in flashbacks that show each member of the family's involvement in Smith's life. The relationships between Eva and Gerald, and later, Eric, are smoothed over in accordance to the censorship of the day. Still, enough elements are retained to give the viewer a good idea of the depth of involvements.
In the play, Eva is first sacked for being involved in a strike; in the film, she is simply sacked for suggesting that the wages requested were necessary to live on. Similarly, in the play, Sheila is trying on a dress when the incident with Eva occurs in the shop; in the film, the incident is over a hat.
The film makes the Inspector out to be more explicitly "supernatural" than does the play. In the play, he is ushered in by the maid, while in the film he simply appears suddenly in the dining room as if from nowhere, accompanied by an ominous chord in the background music. In the middle of the film, he inspects his pocket watch and asks Eric to enter the room. He states he has just heard Eric come through the door; but eerily he states this before Eric does come through the door. Likewise, at the end, when the family receives the phone call that the local police are on their way to question them, the Inspector is supposedly in the study, but when the family checks to see if he is there, they find an empty chair and that he has gone.
C. A. Lejeune, film critic of The Observer, recommended the film; despite its lack of technical polish, its slow pace and often trite dialogue, she found it thought-provoking. The film currently has a "certified fresh" score of 80%.